Did you know that if you stethoscope a tree, you can hear the hum of its heartbeat shivering down each sinewy spine?
My immersive woodland-inspired workshops invite participants to become scientists engaging in the synthesis of symbolic poetic moments; stethoscoping trees to hear the hum of their heartbeats, thus unravelling the possibility of a poetic parallel universe.
As Poet-in-Residence for the Poetry School I programmed a living poetry community outreach project for Open Garden Squares Weekend: Poetry Lives & Breathes.
We draw inspiration from a set of writing prompt cards I have produced by hand, the fruits of extensive scientific research, in order to create work inspired by the fascinating links between trees and humans.
These prompts are based upon the breathtaking and bizarre capabilities of trees as they self-amputate, self-combust or even commit suicide ("flower themselves to death") in order to save their species from shrivelling up.
We investigate everything from the sinewy ropes of the silk-cotton tree that coil around ancient ruins like a reptile round its prey, squeezing and suffocating the stone in its callous embrace, to the living root bridge that can survive for centuries, cupping puddles in its palm.
We also explore poetic phenomena like crown shyness, where leaves shrink away from the slightest touch, and the Australian Boab prison tree that has witnessed whole bodies be wedged beneath its bark.
I also explain how trees talk to each other via a network of fungi, how some trees turn criminal and sabotage unwelcome competition, and we muse over the memory of trees.
My writing prompts are used in parallel to an interactive video presentation with virtual walks through woodland to enhance inspiration during the individual writing time.
I’m also a plant-musician researching the biofeedback of plants in consultation with scientists, using cutting-edge audio technology and amplifiers to translate the "language" of plants into sounds audible to the human ear.
I work with a unique instrument able to perceive the electromagnetic variations from the surface of plant leaves to the root system and translate them into music for performances and workshops, aiming to pioneer new understanding about the science of plant intelligence, plant perception, and inter-woodland communication through poetic dialogue.
Originally devised and developed in association with Ilkley Literature Festival 2017, under the mentorship of Daljit Nagra, my workshops have been programmed with a range of institutions and organisations including Poetry School, University of Cambridge, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Saboteur Awards Festival 2018, and schools.
If you are interested in organising a poetry workshop, please get in contact. I am happy to provide details of costs and potential lesson plans, and can also tailor a workshop to any ideas you may wish to explore.
N.B. Tickets were £8 each at Ilkley Literature Festival, and the workshop sold out 1 month before the event (capped at 15 participants). At Cambridge University, 200+ expressed interest. A slot of 2+ hours is preferable. Norfolk Wildlife Trust programmed 5 hours - photos below.
Ilkley Literature Festival 2017
"A fabulous, thought-provoking workshop. It made me look at the world in a new way."
"Absolutely delightful! Jade is superb! Wonderfully sequenced, productive, thought-provoking. I loved this workshop! Well done, Jade. Fan for life!" - J. Browne.
"What a wealth of interesting, surprising material, great to have a "goody bag " of quotes to keep it going. Weeks worth of ideas."
"Gave me plenty of ideas and learnt a lot of new things about trees. Thank you."
"Really interesting - lots of fascinating information about trees, could be enjoyed even if you aren't poetic. But also inspiring too." - Yvonne.
"Very good content. Nice teaching, full of ideas, very well prepared and timed. I'll go away and write."
"Great workshop, loads of inspiration, lots of food for thought."
"Well done! Very interesting. Inspirational. Thank you."